Chakwera cabinet could be a missed opportunity
Although President Lazarus Chakwera was hailed for including more women in the new cabinet he hired over a three-day period, from Tuesday evening January 25 to Friday January 28, nothing has changed overall. regarding the claim that the nomination is made to the public, particularly the politics behind the nominations.
The new cabinet has 32 members including Chakwera and Chilima. Of these, 12 are women, and of the 12 women, 5 are full ministers while 7 are deputies. In terms of party affiliation, the MCP has 23 ministers in the new Cabinet, supported by the UTM with 5 ministers, while the PPM and PP each have one minister. Of the 30 members, 22 ministers are from the central region; the southern and eastern regions of the country share 5 ministerial posts while the northern region has 3 ministerial posts.
Although he changed ministers to new ministries, Chakwera largely retained the same faces in the new Cabinet. For example, MCP Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka was moved from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources, swapping ministries with the former incumbent of that ministry, Nancy Tembo. Former Minister of Internal Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda has been propelled to the Ministry of Youth and Sports to replace the chopped Ulemu Nsungama.
So many organizations and individuals including the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) have called on President Lazarus Chakwera to reshuffle his cabinet over issues of corruption and incompetence. The call was also in line with what President Chakwera himself promised during his inauguration that he would dissolve his cabinet within six months of taking office after an initial assessment. The decision is therefore long overdue.
However, it is unclear who was fired for incompetence and who was fired because he was entangled in corruption issues. As for former Minister of Lands and Housing, Kezzie Msukwa, it was known he would not return as he is under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly receiving bribes. corruption and bribes from the kingpin of corruption, Zuneth Sattet. It is also clear that the names that have been linked to Satter’s corruption have been safely returned to the cabinet, albeit to different ministerial portfolios.
When he was leader of the opposition, President Lazarus Chakwera was a strong advocate of a lean cabinet. Often he launched scathing attacks on former president Peter Mutharika for maintaining a 20-member cabinet which he said was “important” in relation to Malawi’s economy.
This is why many pundits have called Chakwera’s new cabinet a missed opportunity because that is where he should have gotten serious in purging ministers entangled in corruption and at the same time maintaining a light cabinet given the troubled times that the country is going through. is in progress due to Covid 19.
Instead, Chakwera appointed a 31-member cabinet, including creating unnecessary ministries like the unity ministry, which is contrary to what he preached when he was outside government.
With 22 ministers from one region, the central region, and only 5 ministers from the eastern and southern region, the cabinet is also not representative of the whole nation and has completely deviated from public expectations. that he would be lean and clean.
Cumulatively, the Eastern and Southern regions represent nearly 4 million voters according to electoral data from the last elections. By appointing only 5 ministers from this region and wrapping up 22 ministers from the central region, what statement is Chakwera making?
Is he interested in getting votes from that region, or does he appoint ministers based on which region votes the most for the MCP in the elections? This is also the reason why others accuse Chakwera of being nepotistic in his tendencies and this cabinet appointment only confirms this conclusion.
Some of the new faces in the cabinet include Sam Kawale, Minister of Lands; Mark Katsonga Phiri, Minister of Trade and Industry; Albert Mbawala, Minister of Mines; Ibrahim Matola, Minister of Energy; Harry Mkandawire, Deputy Minister of Defence; Deus Gumba, Deputy Minister of Lands; Enock Phale, Deputy Minister of Health and John Bande, Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation.
Among those ousted from the cabinet are former trade minister Roy Kachale; former Minister of Youth and Sports, Ulemu Msungama; the former Minister of Mines, Rashid Gaffer; former Minister of Lands and Housing, Kezzie Msukwa; Deputy Minister of Health, Chrissie Kalamula Kanyasho and Minister of Finance, Felix Mlusu.
We can also add the former Minister of Energy, Newton Kambala and the former Attorney General, Chikosa Silungwe. Chilima was also stripped of the economic planning portfolio which has since returned to the finance ministry under new minister Sosten Gwengwe.
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